Cases Gone Wild: Private Investigators and Police in Miami

By Ana
In December 6, 2014

Our investigators reported to an unincorporated area of Miami-Dade County for a surveillance case. The neighborhood was a residential area, which made it difficult for the investigators to park. Finally, a surveillance spot was secured on a public patch of grass, adjacent to a residence. The investigators called the local police department to report their location.  This reporting phone call is required by most municipalities in order to avoid the dispatch of police units to investigators’ locations.  It also protects the integrity of the surveillance – there is nothing more annoying than being on surveillance in a residential neighborhood and being ‘lit up’ by the police.

A few uneventful hours passed and no activity was observed. All of a sudden, our investigators were disturbed by a knock on their surveillance vehicle window. Unenthused by the intrusion, they opened the window and were greeted by an overzealous neighbor who wanted the investigators to know that he ‘knew what they were doing there and wanted to know who they were watching’. When questioned on how he knew, he stated that he called the police to report the investigators’ vehicle as suspicious and the dispatcher informed him that the vehicle belonged to our private investigators, who were watching his neighbor. The neighbor continued his questioning, adamant to know which one of his neighbors is the ‘criminal’. Of course, our investigators refused to answer his questions and denied his statements, but were, needless to say, very upset at the lack of support from the local police department. To add insult to injury, a police unit pulled up shortly behind the surveillance vehicle, with the emergency lights on and a glaring spotlight. It turns out that the station had a shift change and no one informed the new officers that our investigators were out at that location. The investigators were called back to Headquarters and surveillance was suspended for that day.

Lesson: It might be helpful to bring this issue of inadequate police support  to our private investigator unions and push for some type of legislation which would ban police departments from disclosing our identities and work scope to citizens. This lack of oversight not only makes doing our jobs almost impossible, but it also puts our private investigators in danger.

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